“Humanize My Hoodie” started two years ago with hoodies that had that message on it as a way to challenge the negative stigma of people of color wearing hoodies.
On Friday, an opening event was held at the University of Iowa Old Capitol Museum for an extended art exhibit based on that message.
Photos spilled out of the art exhibit room throughout the museum, each shared powerful messages about race the stigmas African-Americans face.
“What we did is have a photo shoot with people wearing “Humanize My Hoodie”, just our brand, and just having a powerful quote around because we’re humanizing, not only people in the art, we’re trying to humanize ourselves,” Co-creator Jason Sole said.
“Humanize My Hoodie” was started by Sole and Andre Wright, both natives of Waterloo. Wright says it was meant to de-stigmatize fashion trends worn by people of color.
“You get people thinking negative, right? The first inclination is something negative. That person with that got their pants sagging, give them a chance. That’s our next doctor, our next lawyers, those are next police officers. The list goes on. All they need is an opportunity,” Wright said.
Wright is the creator of his own fashion line, Born Leaders United. He says hoodies are an example of this.
“When I wear a hoodie, I’m looked at as suspicious. I’m looked at as a threat or I’m looked at as someone that could maybe harm someone else. So, we’re just saying before you even think about that, pause, and humanize us first,” he said.
The statement first came from Sole, a criminal justice professor at Hamline in University in Minnesota. Sole said for an entire semester he experimented by wearing a hoodie to teach his class.
“I’m a professor. I’m a father. I’m a community member. I’ve got a lot of titles. I’m an author. I do a lot of amazing things but when people see me with a hoodie on, they think the worst of me,” Sole said.
Both hope their work can start a conversation and that people get to see a different perspective from it.
“Hoping they understand our reality, our plight and what we stand for. This is a movement built on love and we’re hoping we can change hearts and minds in the process,” Sole said.
The exhibit, located in the downstairs of the museum, will stay open through April.